, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 175–192 | Cite as

Interactions Between Pre-Processing and Classification Methods for Event-Related-Potential Classification

Best-Practice Guidelines for Brain-Computer Interfacing
  • J. FarquharEmail author
  • N. J. Hill
Original Article


Detecting event related potentials (ERPs) from single trials is critical to the operation of many stimulus-driven brain computer interface (BCI) systems. The low strength of the ERP signal compared to the noise (due to artifacts and BCI irrelevant brain processes) makes this a challenging signal detection problem. Previous work has tended to focus on how best to detect a single ERP type (such as the visual oddball response). However, the underlying ERP detection problem is essentially the same regardless of stimulus modality (e.g. visual or tactile), ERP component (e.g. P300 oddball response, or the error-potential), measurement system or electrode layout. To investigate whether a single ERP detection method might work for a wider range of ERP BCIs we compare detection performance over a large corpus of more than 50 ERP BCI datasets whilst systematically varying the electrode montage, spectral filter, spatial filter and classifier training methods. We identify an interesting interaction between spatial whitening and regularised classification which made detection performance independent of the choice of spectral filter low-pass frequency. Our results show that pipeline consisting of spectral filtering, spatial whitening, and regularised classification gives near maximal performance in all cases. Importantly, this pipeline is simple to implement and completely automatic with no expert feature selection or parameter tuning required. Thus, we recommend this combination as a “best-practice” method for ERP detection problems.


EEG ERP BCI Decoding LDA Spatial filtering Spectral filtering 



The authors acknowledge the support of the BrainGain Smart Mix Programme of the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and BehaviourRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Wadsworth CenterNew York State Department of HealthAlbanyUSA

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